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What is resilience?

Resilience is a trait, a process and a skill that can be developed

Why is it that some people are able to overcome trauma, adapt and move on? And why are some others impacted by adverse or painful experiences even years after they occur? How is it that some people are able to face adversity and stay mentally healthy, and have healthy relationships with other people, while some others are unable to do so?

We often refer to people who deal with adversities as being resilient. But what exactly is resilience?

Understanding resilience

The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. The term refers to how one copes, manages emotions and seeks support in challenging times.

The concept of resilience has been explored with children who had adverse childhood experiences, through studies that tracked them into adulthood. Based on these studies, we can say that:

Everyone has the ability to be resilient:

All of us have our own way of responding to stress and adversity. However, the way each one of us responds to stress depends on various factors. How we cope and adapt is a distinctive characteristic that is present within all of us. Some of the internal factors that can bolster resilience are determined by our ability to:

  • Make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out
  • Express ourselves and our needs with others
  • Find solutions and work towards resolving problems
  • Be aware of our own feelings/emotions, thoughts and behavior
  • Be introspective and reflective by questioning ourselves – what is happening to me? What do I need to do? What can I do? Whom can I ask for help? etc.

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